Thursday, May 13, 2010
手巻きすしパーティー Sushi Party (itadakimasu)
This is a picture of a temaki sushi party at Yuriko & Sam's house. Almost every week we have a Japanese food party there, where 2 interns cook with Yuriko to learn the art of washoku. Then we feast Japanese-style, beginning with "itadakimasu." The sushi ingredients included Alaskan salmon she buys from a fisher-person, avocado, burdoc root, fluffy eggs, shiitake, fried tofu, etc. She also shares home made wines (e.g. plum and blackberry wine, mead, etc). Since its a Japan themed night, everybody did the official Japanese "peesu" (peace) sign, that defines you as a Japanese person posing for a picture (or at least a wannabe). Yuriko's parties are filled with festive clapping, dancing, cheering, and laughter. I think the technical term is, blissed out.
Eating together is probably one of the most important practices for peace and community-building. Its also an excellent space for cultural exchange.
itadakimasu is a greeting that Japanese (not all) say before eating. It literally is a formal way of saying "I am receiving this." Some people put their hands together and bow as they say it. When I was in elementary school in Japan, students would serve each other food and we would wait until everybody was seated with their food. Then we would all sing or shout (me) "itadakima-su" together and start eating. I do this before almost every meal as a way to fully be aware of how amazing it is to have nutritious food, to be alive, to be present, and to eat with others. It also helps me slow down and not just chow down the nourishing food before me. Its a good opportunity to give thanks and send prayers to those who are not so fortunate, as there are many. Sometimes I think about my ancestors who were starving during WW II. I remember reading about children fighting over grains of rice, and soldiers eating maggots off their wounds in jungles they would rather not be in. Its easy for me to forget that having nutritious food, from all over the world, all the time, is a luxury. So, I want to make sure that I am eating it with respect and using that energy to find ways to build a peace-filled sustainable world for all.